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Thread: Helping the local cafe

  1. #1
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Helping the local cafe

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I had the fortune of visiting a small town in Tasmania, the name of which I wont mention.
    There were two coffee shops that I tried. One served a flat white to me in a cup almost as big as a soup bowl, It was way too hot, sorry did I say way too hot? I meant to say WAAAAYYY to hot!!! Burnt my tongue, and you all know the taste when milk goes beyond 74 degrees...
    So I gave up there, couldnt drink it, couldnt taste it either thanks to the burnt tongue.

    The other cafe had a pretty reasonable coffee, all things considered. They use the same Australian Fine China standard coffee cup that I use at home. The coffee didnt have any concerning aftertaste so typical of your average coffee - rancid, bitter, sour, ashtray character - none of that.
    So I decided to have a chat with the guy. I wanted to not sound like a know all or anything, just that I happen to appreciate a good coffee. One thing led to another and I found myself behind their machine. One group handle was kept in their (two group) machine, the other group was empty. I suggested keeping the other group handle hot, theres a fair chunk of metal in the handle and the shot can suffer if the handle / basket arent up to temperature.
    They seem to keep the baskets clean, flushing them out after each shot, which is good. And they keep the wand clean and reckon they back flush every night.
    So I got hold of their double shot handle and dosed up, he explained he didnt like the grinder, it was a pig to set up. So they dont touch it.
    Went to pick up the tamping tool to tap the basket before scraping / levelling, no tamping tool. Only this little plastic one that is nearly a centimetre smaller in diameter than the baskets they use, or the bump on the doser, which also suffers the same size deficiency compared to their baskets.
    I told him the single most important thing he could do to improve his coffee was to get a real tamping tool that fits his baskets, explaining how water will take the easiest path etc...
    So using the north south east west method to get the tamping done (and NE NW SE & SW...) I poured the shot.
    This is all getting to latte art, they served consistent enough coffee (which was even more surprising when you see the tamping methods). But it would have been so easy for them to add a bit of latte art if they steamed the milk properly then did a bit of a wiggle with the pitcher.
    So we get to the milk. Open the fridge - only skinny milk. No full cream milk, he says they only use the skinny milk. Alarm bells are now ringing, this guy said hed done a coffee course. I didnt discuss the merits of full cream milk - cheaper so the profits per cup would be higher, more consistent at producing microfoam for latte art, better taste for those that dont ask for skinny.
    Look for the pitcher. There are a few to choose from, two standard size but with funny wide pour spouts, and a really large one. All have been used, some a while ago by the look of them.
    I made my double flat white that I was getting to, got some christmas-tree like pattern on it but nowhere near good because the commercial machines have even more steam than I have in my VBM, and theres either on or off with it. I got a whirlpool, but it happened pretty fast with enough milk for 1 cup.
    It sat there for 3 or 4 minutes while we discussed things, then a coffee order came through, he made a latte (with no foam on top, more like a flat white in a glass), and also served the coffee I made.

    I felt bad for him, he has so much potential to produce a great coffee, but simple things are letting him down. Its unlikely I will be back there to have a coffee any time soon (like this year), but Id like to be able to offer further advice to get him on the right track.
    Should I? Or do I accept that he thought I was a know-all who was having a dig at him and let him continue to let his customers down compared to the nirvana they could have if hed make a few changes.

  2. #2
    JJJ
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    To be frank, its not your problem.
    We all see bad coffee and get frustrated but if hes happy to serve it up and his customers dont complain, there isnt an issue.

    Hopefully he takes on board your suggestions but we have to remember than many cafe owners arent passionate about coffee as we are and thus dont take pride in, or any care with, it.

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Very interesting, and a situation most coffee snobs see daily, i suppose it depends on how he took the advise, was he appreciative? or did he seem to pay you off? I had a simular situation a while ago with a local coffee cart, he had lost his mojo, i didnt say anything, i didnt feel comforatable saying anything......he is now bankrupt, spent all he had on the cart......lost it all, do i feel guilty.....a little, without being there feeling what situation you were in, picking up his signals........hard to say what to do. Thanks heaps for telling the story though, good one ;)

    cheers
    warren


    EDIT: He is now bankrupt

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    People will only learn if they are open to new ideas, which unfortunately shuts out most people. You did really well being let behind the machine most attitudes I come up against when talking about coffee centers around the fact that "everybody loves my coffee/I make great coffee".

    Dont be surprised however if some of what you were talking about rubs off.

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 3A343936213736580 link=1264727371/3#3 date=1264731956
    Dont be surprised however if some of what you were talking about rubs off.
    So true ;D As far as coffee goes, ill take advise from anyone who can make a better cuppa than me......they have to prove it first though ;) ;D

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    Senior Member Coffee2Di4's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    No real advice for you Tasadam but to just echo what MotoCoffee said - hoepfully some of it has rubbed off and hell make little adjustments and improve. If not, then it is his bad... :-[ but youve done your best.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4A4E687171746B7C731D0 link=1264727371/2#2 date=1264728787
    Very interesting, and a situation most coffee snobs see daily, i suppose it depends on how he took the advise, was he appreciative? or did he seem to pay you off? I had a simular situation a while ago with a local coffee cart, he had lost his mojo, i didnt say anything, i didnt feel comforatable saying anything......he is now bankrupt, spent all he had on the cart......lost it all, do i feel guilty.....a little, without being there feeling what situation you were in, picking up his signals........hard to say what to do. Thanks heaps for telling the story though, good one ;)

    cheers
    warren


    EDIT: He is now bankrupt
    Thats so said to hear, Warren - I read your original post and really, really felt for the guy: you painted such a dejected picture of him and the fact that hed lost his mojo. I feel like shedding a tear for the guy... :(

    Cheers
    Di

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    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 5753756C6C6976616E000 link=1264727371/2#2 date=1264728787
    i didnt say anything, i didnt feel comforatable saying anything......he is now bankrupt, spent all he had on the cart......lost it all, do i feel guilty.....a little
    Ah, I remember that thread too and wondered what the outcome might have been.

    Warren, sometimes its harder, yet more appropriate not to say something. I think its admirable that you noticed, you cared, and ultimately did what either consciously or subconsciously thought was best. I dont think you have any cause to feel guilty.

    Quote Originally Posted by 7461736164616D000 link=1264727371/0#0 date=1264727371
    Should I?
    Next time you go in I bet hes still using the plakky tamper. That should be enough feedback for YOU to zip your lip. I dont mean that to be insulting. If he felt there was an issue he would have addressed it long before you happened to walk through the door.


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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Tasdam, I generally say nothing to the barista or manager, if the coffee is bad, but leave a half or three quarter full cup on the table.

    I will however say something if the food is just not good enough.

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Martybean, likewise for me. I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something ( and scared ) but i always leave a coffee half drunk if its bad!!

  10. #10
    A_M
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 222E3D3B362D2A2E214F0 link=1264727371/7#7 date=1264792688
    Tasdam, I generally say nothing to the barista or manager, if the coffee is bad, but leave a half or three quarter full cup on the table.

    I will however say something if the food is just not good enough.
    AND

    Quote Originally Posted by 0D2E3D3D2E2C244F0 link=1264727371/8#8 date=1264798758
    Martybean, likewise for me. I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something ( and scared ) but i always leave a coffee half drunk if its bad!!
    I am sure that the Quality people here would be shocked...

    I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something
    While many people behave as such... It does not mean that you need to be, when leaving feedback..


    I try to put it nicely or if in a rush - The plain truth in simple terms... I have yet; to not have my feedback heard... And in a couple of cases, on returning have had them make a coffee and ask for me to Comment ASAP. Two issues at hand - The Person behind the Group (PBTH) wants to know from a personal point and then from one of a general - The coffee is good.

    The local place has even asked me (by phone for advice) ???? A customer took a sip, put it on the counter / commented and walked over to a table and sat down.. The PBTH made a shot for him self and apparently was shocked at how.. Bitter !!! After some quick chatting with other staff - and they called me as I had provided feedback on two other occasions..

    Short fix for the client - Wanted a single.... Was to pull a double short... He was happy and has returned a number of times..

    Issue was a dirty machine... And the staff just hit the button and do not take notice of any blonding etc etc.. Thus no grinder management or tweaking of the machine.

    My wife had a Coffee to go there yesterday.. And it was CRAP.. New staff again.. I rang and the PBTG was shocked... I just put in new beans he said ??? I commented that it could have just been us, but found teh coffee undrinkable. He then said he was going to make himself a coffee...

    Will find out the result on Sunday morning..

    I am amazed at the number of staff that never make and or drink their own product.. If I sport staff making a milk based drink or espresso shot and having them... Then I feel much better as to having a coffee there...

    Note:

    If ya have a great coffee, dont just leave an empty cup... Say something... The satff and management deserve positive as well constructive feedback.

    I can not read coffee cups... 1/4 full - 1/3 full - 1/2 full - lid still on - not touched - Empty and full of sugar wrappers- Empty ???? What does it all mean ? Maybe the first few got called away ?

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 17383133241B37383731333B333822560 link=1264727371/9#9 date=1264800689
    Short fix for the client - Wanted a single.... *Was to pull a double short... * He was happy and has returned a number of times.. *

    Issue was a dirty machine... And the staff just hit the button and do not take notice of any blonding *etc etc.. Thus no grinder management or tweaking of the machine.
    I think part of the problem is that its relatively easy to "hide" a bad shot in a longish milk drink, which is often consumed with a lid on it. *And this is what a lot of punters are drinking.

    Whereas if the customers are drinking straight shots in correctly warmed porcelain cups, the whole situation is far less forgiving. In this case the cafe needs to be pulling quality shots, very consistently.

    Look at Starbucks and Gloria Jeans. They are selling basically weak, coffee-flavoured milkshakes.

    Drinking coffee with the lid on probably removes about 40% of the taste, and the large milk volume accounts for the rest. Throw three sachets of sugar into the mix and its easy to see why some cafes never seem to get called for poor espresso shots!

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    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Thanks for taking the time to read my topic.
    The thing is, its so SO hard to get a good coffee in Tasmania. Only a few places that I can go and actually enjoy a coffee.
    I was in this particular town for 4 days, and the only thing that stopped me from taking my VBM, grinder, and freshly roasted Ethiopian (MMmmmm), was the lack of time.
    This location is a popular tourist town, so I reckon there is potential for this guy to get a great "coffee" name for himself. Already the foods pretty darn good.
    Some good points raised, like has been said if I go back in more than a month from now and there is no proper tamping tool, he probably needs a slap in the face - and the best way to do that would be for me to take my VBM, grinder & beans there, and make him a coffee.
    Then give him a few web addresses where he can go and read up on the merits of a proper tamping tool, full cream milk, other changes like cleaning the pitchers very often and keeping the group handles in the machine.
    Heck, I dont claim to be any sort of expert, most of what I know was learnt here on this forum then self taught at home. But I do know what I like, and I also know that there are things that this cafe, and for that matter, nearly every cafe could learn.
    It all comes down to IF they are willing to. That might mean they need to see the benefits of making changes. They might not be about to go bankrupt - happy in their circle as it is. But in a perfect world, how good would it be for all of us if every cafe was striving for the perfect cup of coffee in every cup they made?
    I seriously thought about doing a course with Chris or some other coffee training school, and selling myself down here as an educater but I really doubt thered be anything in it for me. And it would probably concern me too much when I find out the coffee-making practices of most cafes, if the content of the average cup down here is anything to go by.
    There are exceptions, for which I am grateful.

    I cant remember what beans they use, its not Vittoria or Lavazza or Illy, maybe it was Grinders, dont know.
    If they arent locked into a particular bean supplier because of a "cheap machine rent" deal, perhaps theres a chance they can improve there too. Veneziano, Merlo, diBella or some other Aus roasting company (CS?)
    I know the crema could have been better, I put that down to the tamping and the grinder not being tweaked, I didnt dare touch it as he said it was tempermental, and my only experience is with my Rocky. I should do something about that one day too.

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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 19363F3D2A153936393F3D353D362C580 link=1264727371/9#9 date=1264800689
    Quote Originally Posted by 222E3D3B362D2A2E214F0 link=1264727371/7#7 date=1264792688
    Tasdam, I generally say nothing to the barista or manager, if the coffee is bad, but leave a half or three quarter full cup on the table.

    I will however say something if the food is just not good enough. *


    AND

    Quote Originally Posted by 0D2E3D3D2E2C244F0 link=1264727371/8#8 date=1264798758
    Martybean, likewise for me. I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something ( and scared ) but i always leave a coffee half drunk if its bad!! *
    I am sure that the Quality people here would be shocked...

    I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something
    While many people behave as such... It does not mean that you need to be, when leaving feedback..


    I try to put it nicely or if in a rush - The plain truth in simple terms... *I have yet; *to not have my feedback heard... *And in a couple of cases, on returning have had them make a coffee and ask for me to Comment ASAP. *Two issues at hand *- The Person behind the Group *(PBTH) wants to know from a personal point and then from one of a general - The coffee is good.

    The local place has even asked me (by phone for advice) ???? *A customer *took a sip, *put it on the counter / commented and walked over to a table and sat down.. The PBTH made a shot for him self and apparently was shocked at how.. Bitter !!! *After some quick chatting with other staff - and they called me as I had provided feedback on two other occasions..

    Short fix for the client - Wanted a single.... *Was to pull a double short... * He was happy and has returned a number of times.. *

    Issue was a dirty machine... And the staff just hit the button and do not take notice of any blonding *etc etc.. Thus no grinder management or tweaking of the machine.

    My wife had a Coffee to go there yesterday.. And it was CRAP.. *New staff again.. *I rang and the PBTG was shocked... I just put in new beans he said ??? *I commented that it could have just been us, but found the coffee undrinkable. * He then said he was going to make himself a coffee...

    Will find out the result on Sunday morning..

    I am amazed at the number of staff that never make and or drink their own product.. *If I sport staff making a milk based drink or espresso shot and having them... Then I feel much better as to having a coffee there... *

    Note:

    If ya have a great coffee, dont just leave an empty cup... *Say something... The satff and management deserve positive as well constructive feedback.

    I can not read coffee cups... 1/4 full *- *1/3 full - *1/2 full - lid still on - not touched - Empty and full of sugar wrappers- Empty ???? *What does it all mean ? * Maybe the first few got called away ?
    You left out my (and scared)

    Of course if i was asked i would gladly guide ppl. I suppose i have been worn down over the years by trying to help or guide ppl and have rarely (if ever) accepted advice!! Maybe its me though :-/ I would however rather help the ppl who hunt me down at work and beg for advice!! ppl who are really on the great espresso quest and are searching for themselves.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 61425151424048230 link=1264727371/12#12 date=1264848785
    ppl who are really on the great espresso quest and are searching for themselves.
    I think the problem in the case I saw, he just doesnt realize how off the mark he is. With the best coffee in that town yet with so many things that can be easily improved, theres great potential. I hope he sees it.
    Ive decided to write to him & will leave it at that. I could post a draft here, but its a bit long... It does include this link - http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-guide.html
    And a link to the FAQ at the Pullman tamper site (Great write-up Greg).

  15. #15
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 446B62607748646B64626068606B71050 link=1264727371/9#9 date=1264800689
    I am sure that the Quality people here would be shocked...
    Yep. :o
    (I swear Id already replied but my post seems to have vanished.)

    Quote Originally Posted by 41606B6B6C76050 link=1264727371/6#6 date=1264766148
    If he felt there was an issue he would have addressed it long before you happened to walk through the door.
    Im with Dennis on this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by 71647664616468050 link=1264727371/13#13 date=1264892229
    With the best coffee in that town yet with so many things that can be easily improved, theres great potential.
    Hes got the best coffee in town.
    Whats his motivation to meet the expectations of a blow-in (you)?



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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 5D617C676D6C7B6E666D090 link=1264727371/14#14 date=1264894584
    Quote Originally Posted by 446B62607748646B64626068606B71050 link=1264727371/9#9 date=1264800689
    I am sure that the Quality people here would be shocked...
    Yep. :o
    (I swear Id already replied but my post seems to have vanished.)

    Quote Originally Posted by 41606B6B6C76050 link=1264727371/6#6 date=1264766148
    If he felt there was an issue he would have addressed it long before you happened to walk through the door.
    Im with Dennis on this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by 71647664616468050 link=1264727371/13#13 date=1264892229
    With the best coffee in that town yet with so many things that can be easily improved, theres great potential. *
    Hes got the best coffee in town.
    Whats his motivation to meet the expectations of a blow-in (you)?


    Agreed thundergod, so why tell him?? Like i said, wait until he is searching. As the saying goes You can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink...

  17. #17
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 7945584349485F4A42492D0 link=1264727371/14#14 date=1264894584
    Hes got the best coffee in town.
    Whats his motivation to meet the expectations of a blow-in (you)?
    Money, for him.
    For starters, full cream milk will (I find) give a sweeter smoother drink, and its easier to foam, and its cheaper.
    Better coffee = busier business = recommendations = more coin in his pocket.

    OK Lets see if it fits, heres the draft letter...
    No, doesnt fit. New post coming, stand by...

  18. #18
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Many coffee shops could learn from this, and Im no expert.

    xxxx is it? I met you in the cafe on the weekend.
    You may think me a smart ass, I donít care. Whether you take any of this on board or whether you are happy doing what you are doing, I donít care either, to a point. One day I will be back in xxx and short of anything better in xxxxx, I will be back to buy your coffee again. Yes I do believe you currently have the best coffee in xxxx.So letís make it better. It isnít hard, and itís in your interests.
    Whatís in this for me? Nothing, short of hopefully showing you the coffee nirvana that awaits you on the other side of a learning curve and a few changes. Whatís in it for you?
    More money because of more coffee sales, a great reputation, and if word gets out that your coffee is that much better, theyíll soon learn about your great (local food of fame) and other food as well. More sales.
    Want proof about good coffee? I am prepared to come to xxxxx some time, with my home machine (not a toy) and grinder and my freshly roasted beans and my real tamping tool, and give you a taste of what is possible. It is so much better, you would not believe unless you have tasted great, fresh coffee elsewhere.
    1. The (link to home-barista info)... Thereís heaps of other info on that site too. The document is written in America, and is designed primarily to assist the home user step up to the plate with what should be the norm in a commercial coffee making environment (a cafe or coffee shop). While the entire document is not completely relevant to you, you may find it as interesting and educational to read as I did when I was learning.
    2. You need a real tamping tool. It is the single biggest change you can make to your coffee making. They are not expensive for an off-the-shelf one from a kitchen supply shop, *probably about $50. A really good one that looks great is a little over $100. Have a look at http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/ and also read the literature on that site here - http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/information/faq.html
    A short extract if you donít bother looking at that site Ė
    <first paragraph from link, edited out to save space here>
    (And on it goes, have a read...)
    3. Why skinny milk? It makes no sense. I make my coffee with <local milk brand> (tastes better than <other brand>) full cream milk. Youíre in a business Ė full cream milk is somewhat cheaper than skinny milk. So thereís a saving straight off. Then youíve got the ability to produce consistent microfoam for your milk based drinks, thus allowing you to get into the world of latte art.
    When I was there, I could not produce good latte art for a few reasons, not least of which is because you use skinny milk. If customers want skinny milk like a skinny flat white or a skinny latte, let them ask for it. Your taste suffers too, the coffee taste mixes with the full cream milk better, it tastes sweeter, smoother. And if an element of your coffee making is not spot on, itís more easily disguised in full cream milk than in skinny milk. Donít take my word for it, go do some research.
    4. You say your grinder is a pig to set up and you donít like to touch it. Yet, it is necessary to adjust the grind occasionally, only slightly, to keep things consistent. *Itís a capable grinder, but you are not using it to its potential. Does it have a problem? How old are the burrs in it? They are replaceable and there are a number of shops on the mainland that will sell you burrs and tell you how to change them. Things like changes in humidity in the air can mean a small grinder adjustment is necessary if you want to get that particular about it. When you look at it, you use the same beans, you would assumingly tamp the same way each time (particularly after obtaining a tamping tool), the machine is set up at the right temperature and things are clean all the time, so the only variable (apart from the weight applied to the tamping tool), is the size of the grind. Tamp consistently Ė keep it level and press down with the same amount of firmness each time, a quick twist to polish the top of the puck (called so because it looks like an ice hockey puck), then the only difference will be the size of the grind. Being able to tweak the grinder is very important. Also, I notice you only grind as you need the coffee Ė well done! Ground coffee loses its best after about 3 minutes, so grind as you need and you will be doing things well.
    5. Your milk jugs are the wrong shape for precise latte art and they should always be kept clean. If you go on to youtube and search for latte art, you will find heaps of demonstrations on latte art pouring. Thereís also a site with videos, for the World Latte Art and Barista championship. Australia does very well in this, and I know one of the competitors from Melbourne, she got 2nd in the world last year in Copenhagen. Latte Art should be a standard skill of a good barista. Serving a coffee with a bit of art on the microfoam will impress your customers.
    6. Talking about coffees served in the cafe... Fill the cup. Several times I received a cup that was down by as much as a centimetre when it was served. It makes no sense why. To a tourist from the coffee yuppie scene of Sydney or Melbourne, you will look like you are trying to rip them off or something. If it is because your staff cannot carry them without slopping some in the saucer, get them to practice. Fill a couple of cups to the correct level and get them to carry them up the street to the <landmark> and back, the one that gets the furthest without spilling any in the saucer gets to go home an hour early, itís not a race Ė doesnít matter how long to carry it, itís about learning to carry it steady, which they will do with practice. Or maybe thereís another reason why the tide is low in the cup. Lack of experience by the maker I suspect.
    7. Are you the owner of your machine, or do you have it cheap because you are locked into sourcing your coffee beans from one supplier? I hope you are not locked in. This gives you the greatest opportunity for change to something great Ė FRESH coffee. Coffee such as xxxx, xxxx, xxxx, many others (certainly ALL the supermarket ones), all are roasted overseas and shipped to Australia in vacuum sealed bags. The rule of 3ís. 3 years, 3 weeks and 3 minutes, this is how long green beans, roasted beans, and ground beans will last respectively. Green beans, which is what I buy, is the raw product. I roast my own, every couple of weeks. I will have anywhere between 2 and 4 different types of beans roasted at any one time, and will blend by putting a handful of this and a handful of that into the grinder. They are kept in airtight tins, not in the fridge. Roasted coffee beans only last a few weeks before they are past their prime. It is sad that all the coffee imported into Australia by the ďpopularĒ brands, will be stale, or at least past its prime, before it even touches out shores. *There are quite a number of excellent commercial coffee roasting companies in Australia, and they can roast and send you beans as often as you need them. I donít know what you pay for beans, but the difference will be minimal compared to the quality of whatís in the cup. An espresso shot is often undrinkable because it tastes burnt / acidic / sour / ashtray / rancid. A good espresso shot will taste smooth and sweet, natural sweetness from the coffee bean. It is achieved in the roasting process (assuming the coffee is made correctly), when the natural sugars in the coffee bean are roasting, they caramelise and eventually crystallise, and they will burn if the coffee is roasted too far.

    When the coffee is roasted correctly, these crystallised sugars in the bean will pass their character into the espresso shot, and youíre now looking at a pretty smooth taste. Have you ever had an espresso shot you could call ďsmoothĒ?
    Before you consider changing beans, you really need to get some other things sorted out. Get the tamping tool, get some reading done to see what changes you can make to get the consistency thing going (being able to repeat consistent shots of coffee). Once you are happy with the improvements, and you have learnt to manage the grinder (if everything else is consistent, the grinder is the only thing to adjust), you are then ready to experiment with different beans. Fresh beans. Correctly roasted beans.

    The written word can come across as being fairly aggressive or blunt. Sorry about that, I write it as it comes out, I tend to go on a bit, but everything I have said here is factual.

    I hope I have given you something to look forward to and that I have not insulted you. As I said at the start, I believe you have the best coffee I have tried in xxxxxx. So letís make
    it better. Letís make your coffee something that is good enough to recommend to coffee connoisseurs on an internet site. People WILL seek you out with such a recommendation. But it needs to be earned. And again, it isnít that difficult, just a matter of learning, and wanting to make the changes necessary to achieve your true coffee potential. I wish you, most sincerely, the best of luck.
    Adam.
    PS That coffee I made, it was sitting for a good few minutes while we chatted then you served it. I was on the brink of paying you for it (and tipping it out) so that you can make your paying customer a fresh cup. As soon as itís made, serve it. Things like that will be evident to someone who knows about coffee, the way the crema in a cup blends with the latte art pattern in the milk, and the longer it sits, the more it changes.
    I did not cover temperature of the drink in this write up, I believe you are doing that well. Remember that milk proteins are curdled once the milk goes above 74 degrees and it is ruined. And donít tell <person at other coffee shop> that, you will always be in front. I burnt my tongue on a coffee <at other coffee shop> & came to you for a takeaway. I donít like takeaway but sometimes it is necessary.

  19. #19
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    A few general hints for the letter if I may:

    Its a great idea to follow up with a letter.

    Take out all the stuff about not caring or caring--if you didnt care you certainly wouldnt be doing all of this--actions speak louder than words.

    Start with the positives you noticed, then the negatives and the suggested changes, and finish with more positives--a sort of "sandwich letter".

    Positively constructed statements go directly to the point--negatives go through the back door and start where you dont want to be.

    Your level of commitment from a casual visit is amazing, I hope it gets the results youd like.

    Greg

  20. #20
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Just a quick note that good content but you might want to be a bit more concise. As someone who runs a small business if I was to be sent this letter I would probably look at it and put it in the "read later" pile as I am short of time today (and every day) and may never get back to it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 63564143734B5649454840240 link=1264727371/18#18 date=1264904442
    A few general hints for the letter if I may:

    Its a great idea to follow up with a letter.

    Take out all the stuff about not caring or caring--if you didnt care you certainly wouldnt be doing all of this--actions speak louder than words.

    Start with the positives you noticed, then the negatives and the suggested changes, and finish with more positives--a sort of "sandwich letter".

    Positively constructed statements go directly to the point--negatives go through the back door and start where you dont want to be.

    Your level of commitment from a casual visit is amazing, I hope it gets the results youd like.

    Greg
    Good ideas, thanks. As I said in it, I write it as it comes out. So I will address this before i send it. My good deed for the coffee appreciating community of that town.

  22. #22
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 5441534144414D200 link=1264727371/17#17 date=1264903808
    everything I have said here is factual
    Quote Originally Posted by 5441534144414D200 link=1264727371/17#17 date=1264903808
    I tend to go on a bit
    I agree with both quotes.



    Maybe you could revise it to a shorter version. e.g.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5441534144414D200 link=1264727371/17#17 date=1264903808
    (called so because it looks like an ice hockey puck)
    does this really need to be there?



    If youre determined to try, go for it! But try to keep it as short and sweet as you can; dont hit him with all guns blazing up front.

    Maybe shorten it to what you consider the most important bits; keep in the positive things hes doing and then throw in that offer to go back with your equipment and demonstrate.

    If you get that far he can ask for more detail.






  23. #23
    Senior Member Luke_G's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    From my experience, people will only learn if they are interested in whats being tought. So..either make it interesting or tell them to jog on if they loose focus.

    The problem with a large number of cafes is that either their customers tell them they are good OR being trained by a barista for a short period of time...they think they know all there is to know. Its the later type that never get better unless they figure it our for themselves.

    My advice would be....go back in for a coffee, see if they have made any improvements and above all....see how this person receives you this time around. If they remember you(which they should) then ask them how its all going...maybe they will ask you for your opinion on something and your behind the machine again :)

  24. #24
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 7945584349485F4A42492D0 link=1264727371/21#21 date=1264905345
    tasadam wrote on Today at 13:10:
    (called so because it looks like an ice hockey puck)
    does this really need to be there?
    Definitely!

    The notion that a coffee puck is named after an ice hockey puck is nothing more than an urban legend. In fact, the coffee puck is named after the character "Puck", aka Pook, Robin Goodfellow and Hobgoblin, as in Shakespeares, "A Midsummer Nights Dream".

    I believe this because when we are introduced to Puck in that play (Act II, Scene I) one of Titanias fairies begins by saying, "Either I mistake your shape..." and goes on to say, "And sometime make the drink to bear no barm". Barm meaning foam, ergo crema.

    Im also sure that somewhere in that same play the fairies skate on ice - linking Puck the character to the game. If this is incorrect, then it is probable that the origin of the ice hockey puck came about when a group of school aged ice-hockey players were taken on excursion by their English teacher (I kid you not, mine was called Mrs. Kletzmayer) to see the play. These same students then went to play their game of hockey and while hitting what was then called, "the oversized black draught game piece", one of the players exclaimed, "Im giving this a blow". Now in Irish, a blow is a poc, and you can probably figure out the rest.

    So there you go. You now know the origins of the coffee puck according to Dennis, who has miraculously taken this topic into OT oblivion. ;D


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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Far out! Ive liked both coffee and Shakespeare for a long time and I never knew that!

    Shine on, Dennis.

    L

  26. #26
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 7A6F7D6F6A6F630E0 link=1264727371/11#11 date=1264804203
    Thanks for taking the time to read my topic.
    The thing is, its so SO hard to get a good coffee in Tasmania. Only a few places that I can go and actually enjoy a coffee.
    I know how you feel we were in Tassie in 2007 summer holidays and found good coffee very hard to find.
    I tried to make suggestions on making the milk a bit cooler not boiling, and the foam not bubbly, but two or three times got told thats how our customers like it.

    I had a good takeaway in Bicheno one day went back next day different girl pouring coffee. I got a boiling hot latte.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4F60696B7C436F606F696B636B607A0E0 link=1264727371/9#9 date=1264800689
    Re: Helping the local cafe
    Reply #9 - 30. Jan 2010 at 08:31 martybean wrote on 30. Jan 2010 at 06:18:
    Tasdam, I generally say nothing to the barista or manager, if the coffee is bad, but leave a half or three quarter full cup on the table.

    I will however say something if the food is just not good enough.

    AND

    Barrack wrote on 30. Jan 2010 at 07:59:
    Martybean, likewise for me. I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something ( and scared ) but i always leave a coffee half drunk if its bad!!

    I am sure that the Quality people here would be shocked...

    Quote:
    I am not arrogant or rude enough 2 say something
    I have been told by my wife that at times I can come across a bit rude when I have said something .
    I think I lack a bit of tact.

    Goodluck Tasadam with helping this cafe, who knows you might inspire some more of us to try and help other cafes.


  27. #27
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Theres a place I go locally with the kids ciz its family friendly and Ive had good coffee there in the past but since the main Barista left 3 months ago Ive struggled to get a good coffee. I can pretty much identify the faults off the bat: underdosing, no wiping out the basket between shots, no flushing the group head between extractions, or grinding to order - but these guys are always busy due to location

    so what I did was bypass the cafe and go straight to the roaster direct saying that the machine needed maintenance and the staff needed training - long and short of it was that when I went back last week my first coffee was excellent (I watched it being made) but my second two were increasingly worse with my last one undrinkable (different Barista not much of a clue)

    what can I say?

    I gave it my best shot I wont be drinking coffee from there again until there has been a noticeable change (if and when that happens)

    as for me Id much rather get some productive feedback than a half empty cup and I train my staff to zero in on customers who are slow to drink their coffees in case there is a problem!

  28. #28
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Ive been to new places sometimes because they have a go9od reputation for food and then have to decide if Ill try the coffee.

    I remember one time getting a table with a birds eye view of the coffee machine.
    Noticing Id finished my breakfast, one of the baristas asked if I was going to have a coffee (never let a chance go by; good on him).
    I told him I was thinking about it and said Id watch for a while then decide (pressure).
    He did everything right but one thing bothered me; the steam wand chrome had been eaten away and didnt look the best.
    We had a discussion around it and he had a few excuses regarding the quality of the part but he took it all well.
    I cant remember now whether or not I ended up trying a coffee (the food was excellent) but he understood my reservations and we parted on good terms.

    What Im getting at is those that care, like we do, will take the feedback well.
    To others, a coffee is just another stock item they sell.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 7F435E454F4E594C444F2B0 link=1264727371/27#27 date=1265082230
    What Im getting at is those that care, like we do, will take the feedback well.
    To others, a coffee is just another stock item they sell.
    This represents my view as well

    In most establishments coffee is just another stock item they sell

    KK

  30. #30
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 4B6F666665655F4B6F736D6F000 link=1264727371/28#28 date=1265082534
    In most establishments coffee is just another stock item they sell
    And if its not up to scratch, I want that item to come under the "not suitable for the purpose claimed" clause. >:(

    Take it back and get a refund. :)

    Greg

  31. #31
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    What you say about the food is so true Thundergod, we recently went down to Gippsland for chrissy holidays and had breaky, at Mum and Dads favourite Cafe.
    The food was good old fashioned Sunday breaky eggs, bacon, toast thick cut and tomato $15 it was pretty good.But when we placed our order the barista asked if we would like a coffee "he said WE ONLY use Lavazza Beans for our coffee" I replied with a polite NO!

  32. #32
    Senior Member tasadam's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Well, work had unexpectedly taken me near to where this place is, so I thought, what the heck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I modified my document and printed it out, recommending he read it, explaining very concisely my good intentions and not meaning to insult but promising he would not regret it if he took the time to read and act. Then I handed him the document, he still had my business card (a good sign), so he attached it, and I wished him well and left.
    Ill come back here and update if theres any news.

    In the mean time, I got to thinking, at the lack of coffee educators here in Tasmania, I thought I might start by getting a list of questions together for a questionnaire sheet to take to cafes and see what info I can get out of them.
    Bear in mind, Ive only stood behind a commercial machine a couple of times and operated one once (this once above).
    Things I can think of, off the cuff -
    How often do you clean your steam wand?
    How often do you back flush?
    Do you have a metal tamping tool?
    Can anyone at your establishment perform latte art?
    At what temperature do you steam the milk until?
    How often are the milk jugs cleaned?
    Are you happy with the coffee you make and serve?
    Are you genuinely interested in improving the coffee you serve?
    Are you locked in to one coffee bean supplier?
    What price do you pay per kg for roasted beans?
    How many KG of beans per day / week do you grind and sell?
    Do you know the date at which the beans you use were roasted?
    How long has it been since your grinder was empty of beans?

    Can someone else throw in a heap of questions?

    I might then print them out and take them to some coffee shops and see if they want to contact me. What the heck, might be something in it for me other than the feelgood of doing my bit to improve the standard of coffee around here.

  33. #33
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    I would add, Do you know how long to pour a shot of espresso? or what makes a good shot.

  34. #34
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    How long do you leave beans in the hopper, do you empty hopper at end of trade?

    do you grind on demand or fill the doser

    machine maintenance regime?

    how much coffee gets delivered each time, how frequent is delivery, is coffee going stale in storage at your premise?

    do you know how to pour a long black? ;D

    few more i could think of.......

  35. #35
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 3227352722272B460 link=1264727371/31#31 date=1265109578
    So I modified my document and printed it out, recommending he read it,

    explaining very concisely my good intentions and not meaning to insult but promising he would not regret it if he took the time to read and act.


    Then I handed him the document, he still had my business card (a good sign), so he attached it, and I wished him well and left.
    Ill come back here and update if theres any news.
    I know you have good intentions I just think you need to tread carefully.

    with the above underlined statement why is it that nearly every time someone says to you "i dont want to hurt / insult / anger / upset you, BUT......."

    it nearly always insults, angers, upsets, hurts you......

    as others have said you need to give people the positives of your ideas 1st. Many people have different motivations. It might be more customers, more money, better quality product or something else.

    Its a fine line your walking, heres hoping it for the best :)
    Leeham

  36. #36
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Hi Adam

    From the list of questions you have already it sounds like you might intend providing training and coffee. Rather than give you another wad of questions you can ask, how about answering some likely questions from cafe owners who may have a genuine interest. After all, if they take the time to respond, theyll expect you can deliver!

    I use 30kg a week. What can you give them to me for?
    I like a strong, caramel finish. What coffee do you have that will give me this?
    Who else do you supply?
    Do you have a destoner?
    Do you supply free on loan equipment? How about umbrellas, aprons, t-shirts, sugar, etc.?
    Can I come and visit your roastery?
    I think my machine is running hot. Can you show me how to reduce the temperature?
    The water flow from the group head on the right hand side of my machine runs faster than the left. Whats happening?
    Are the burrs on my grinder OK?
    My wife works in the shop and makes coffees. She only drinks tea and customers avoid ordering coffee when shes on. What do you recommend?
    What milk should I be using?
    The shop gets really hot at night and particularly in Summer. What options do I have to keep the coffee from going off?
    If I send 4 staff to do your training how much will it cost?
    What are your credentials?
    Will they be able to do latte art by the end of the training?

    Ive been asked every one of these questions and plenty more. ;)



  37. #37
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 0E2F242423394A0 link=1264727371/35#35 date=1265151020
    Hi Adam

    From the list of questions you have already it sounds like you might intend providing training and coffee. *Rather than give you another wad of questions you can ask, how about answering some likely questions from cafe owners who may have a genuine interest. *After all, if they take the time to respond, theyll expect you can deliver!

    I use 30kg a week. *What can you give them to me for?
    I like a strong, caramel finish. *What coffee do you have that will give me this?
    Who else do you supply?
    Do you have a destoner?
    Do you supply free on loan equipment? *How about umbrellas, aprons, t-shirts, sugar, etc.?
    Can I come and visit your roastery?
    I think my machine is running hot. *Can you show me how to reduce the temperature?
    The water flow from the group head on the right hand side of my machine runs faster than the left. *Whats happening?
    Are the burrs on my grinder OK?
    My wife works in the shop and makes coffees. *She only drinks tea and customers avoid ordering coffee when shes on. *What do you recommend?
    What milk should I be using?
    The shop gets really hot at night and particularly in Summer. *What options do I have to keep the coffee from going off?
    If I send 4 staff to do your training how much will it cost?
    What are your credentials?
    Will they be able to do latte art by the end of the training?

    Ive been asked every one of these questions and plenty more. *;)

    Good call Den........all very good points from someone who knows, but did he mention supplying beans? he might have i just cant see it.....

    cheers
    warren

  38. #38
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 1410362F2F2A35222D430 link=1264727371/36#36 date=1265156876
    but did he mention supplying beans?
    Hi Warren, I understood this may be a possibility from the following questions. If there is no intention to supply coffee, then these questions would be irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by 3722302227222E430 link=1264727371/31#31 date=1265109578
    Are you locked in to one coffee bean supplier?
    What price do you pay per kg for roasted beans?
    How many KG of beans per day / week do you grind and sell?
    Cheers!

  39. #39
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Oh i was thinking he was questioning whether he was paying too much for coffee.......and whether they were locked in or are able to explore unknown( to them) options.......maybe you den ;)

    cheers

  40. #40
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by 53577168686D72656A040 link=1264727371/38#38 date=1265176380
    Oh i was thinking he was questioning whether he was paying too much for coffee
    Even $10kg is too much if its no good. ;D


  41. #41
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Its good for the rose garden thou den! ;D

  42. #42
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Im afraid I think the list of questions is likely to put nearly everyone "off-side" with you. Without a personal contact, this sort of stuff is most peoples nightmare of advertising.

    If you are prepared to offer the training, then the only question they need to answer is "Are you ready to make more money from better coffee?"

    Greg

  43. #43
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    Re: Helping the local cafe

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    All good points and thank you for the input.
    Whats in my mind is the thought of taking a standard sheet, well formatted with introductory letter and explanation, with me when I have a coffee.
    If the coffee is not so good and I can get talking to the head barista / manager / whatever, ask them if they are interested in learning about better coffee, present the sheet, then hopefully point them in the right direction.
    With the guy in the town I went to where this topic started, I am prepared to offer him all the advice I can then if he needs to know more, either he will already know (he claims he sends his staff off to coffee training), or hopefully I can find out who or where in Tassie can offer such training.
    With other cafes, what I would like to achieve is letting them know there is so much more to what could be in the cup, if they were interested in taking the time and steps to learn.
    Im no coach / trainer, as I pointed out, I have only stepped in front of a commercial machine a couple of times. Im no mug either, I can see where things are going wrong, particularly when they are as obvious as a silly plastic tamper about a cm smaller than the basket.
    Its just an idea.
    If a suitable introductory letter and list of questions could be put together, perhaps we snobs can all use it to give to some of the cafes that we think deserve a wake up call.
    Links to places where they could go for further help would be good. Where to buy beans, where to learn to flush the machine properly, things like that,



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